Current gig: Starring as action heroine Violet in the sci-fi movie Ultraviolet
She learned wushu isn't for wusses
For the self-described klutz, learning the intricate Matrix-style stunts required for her role as a revolutionary in the futuristic Ultraviolet was a challenge. "I'm the person that bumps heads with people when we hug," says the actress, who trained in China up to eight hours a day for more than two months. "I got to learn some incredible wushu, which is a very visual form of martial arts that has to do with a lot of spinning swords. It's pretty intense."
Mastering the skills, though, came with a price. "The funniest part is the worst injury I got, I gave to myself," says Jovovich (pronounced Yo-vo-vitch). "At one point during this big action scene, I had the sword spinning so fast and I end up stabbing myself in the leg." Ouch.
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Though Jovovich – whose upcoming movies include the third installment of Resident Evil, the thriller Fade Out with Billy Bob Thornton and the gritty revenge drama .45 – is immersed in her film career, she's equally devoted to her clothing line, Jovovich-Hawk.
"It's definitely sophisticated, but it's got a sense of humor," she says of the collection she started with model pal Carmen Hawk more than three years ago. "We both draw and create the fabrics. There's a lot of work that goes into it." In fact, Jovovich has even turned down roles to focus on the line, which has a New York City showroom and sells in stores such as Fred Segal in Los Angeles.
Her family inspires her
Jovovich credits her parents with her strong work ethic. Mom Galina was a well-known movie actress and dad Bogich a successful physician before they moved from Russia to L.A. in 1980. Once in the States, "we had to start from zero. Suddenly, (my parents were working as) cooks and housekeepers," she says. "They definitely put a lot of motivation and inspiration in me."
At 11, Jovovich started modeling, and within a year she was posing for Revlon's Most Unforgettable Woman in the World campaign. As she racked up magazine covers, she transitioned to acting and inherited Brooke Shields's role in 1991's Return to the Blue Lagoon. Parts in the '90s flicks Dazed and Confused and The Fifth Element followed. Two years later, Jovovich – who's still a spokesmodel for L'Oréal – starred in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, directed by her now ex-husband Luc Besson.
Still, one day, she'd like to go to college and study physics. "It would be awesome to be able to understand more in depth how people come to the conclusions they come to," she says.
She's overcome tough times
In 2001, Jovovich's close friend and musical collaborator, Anno Birkin, died, and she spiraled into a depression. "That was one of my low points," the sometime singer says. "I was isolating myself at home watching crime on TV and reading fantasy novels."
A year ago, the fog began to lift, and today Jovovich – who's engaged to Resident Evil writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson – is optimistic about the future. "Who knows what'll happen, but I'm back on a good path," she says. "It's so much easier to smile and feel like there's hope ahead."